November 1st, 2007 | Interviews

shea m gauer


Sweden’s Witchcraft started with a 45 dedicated both to Roky Erickson and Bobby Liebling, then went on to release three records on Rise Above. Guitarist/singer Magnus Pelander speaks now just after stepping out of the van in New Orleans.

You are in America on Halloween. What are you doing?
We just arrived here in New Orleans and we’re gonna have a gig. Lots of people are in the streets dressed out. We’re just regular.
What’s regular?
I can answer for myself. Today I got—how do you say? Corduroy pants.
And a black t-shirt?
A Black Sabbath t-shirt.
Has anyone asked if your costume is ‘heavy metal guy’?
Depends on what you mean by heavy metal.
Is Roky Erickson your favorite American?
Who is?
Or citizen.
Roky Erickson is of course a great musician and an obscure one. I don’t know, man. I don’t have any favorite American citizens. I guess my favorite people are people I know, and I don’t know any Americans too well.
How did you find out about Roky Erickson in Sweden?
Just general interest in music—I had a deep interest in music and bands, and a friend of mine introduced me to Roky in 1997. He was in a band at the time—the Strollers, an amazing band—the vocalist. I think we’d listen to him on the bus to the same school we were in. I just heard a track and I remember being really trapped at the very first moment. I saw similarities with him and the ‘70s Pentagram stuff. It is classic rock sounding.
What do you think of his love songs?
I like almost all the stuff. The acoustic stuff—I really love that.
What was it like performing with Bobby Liebling from Pentagram?
That was last year. It was quite weird. The story behind him—the drugs and everything—made me very sad. But everyone chooses their own life, in a way. He was a nice guy.
Who else would you like to pull on stage with you?
Every big dream—maybe a kid’s dream, but Maynard James Keenan from Tool. And I don’t know if it would fit, but Tori Amos is one of my favorite musicians ever. They actually did a performance together.
What cover song would you all do together?
We have done covers in the past, like Pentagram and Roky Erickson, and—this is kind of funny, but you know that band Tegan and Sara? That song ‘Walking With A Ghost’? I was like, ‘That’s perfect Witchcraft cover material!’ A classic-sounding rock song—kind of much like Roky Erickson, actually. And then the White Stripes did a fucking cover—did it before us! He has good taste in music, that Jack White.
What’s it like shopping for vintage furniture in Sweden?
It depends—if you look for it, you will find it. But it’s easier to find over here.
What’s your favorite purchase in America so far?
I’d say a couple of Melvins records. One of my missions when I came here was to buy almost the whole Melvins catalog.
What else do you want that people could bring to the show?
What else? It’s quite funny to bring this up—I was having somebody write on Myspace, and they wanted us to come to their city, and I was just fooling typing jokes on her site, and I said I needed a brand new pair of pants. She was like, ‘I wanna book you,’ and I was like, ‘I think you will bring me a pair of corduroy pants.’
What size?
34 / 32.
How do the American audiences compare to European audiences?
They seem to be really into the music—some of the clubs, we’re very close to the audience, and they really like it and know the lyrics and sing along. It seems like a real highlight to them.
Have you ever been too close to the audience?
Actually, a few times, yes. Some nights, you feel like you’d like a couple of meters. But you just back up to the cabinets for some peace of mind.
I wouldn’t think in front of your cabinets would be a peaceful place.
Not really, but you get your own sphere for a couple of seconds.
Is this your first full U.S. tour?
The second one—we had a year in between.
Is America getting better or getting worse?
We don’t see too much. That’s definitely the worst thing about being on tour. You spend so much time in the van or a motel or dark smoky clubs. I don’t even smoke cigarettes.
You might as well start.
It’s kind of frustrating to just sit in the van. But I’d definitely come back for vacation.
To Disneyland?
I’m not Disneyland—that’s not my thing. The Grand Canyon for sure. California, the desert, maybe go swim in a creek somewhere.
Are you confused by Halloween?
I have known since I was a kid from movies about Halloween in America, and for maybe the last ten years, Sweden and Europe—how do you say?—are very interested by this holiday. Imported—really imported. Today it’s quite a big thing in Sweden. Twenty years ago, nobody celebrated. Today it’s a thing.
Have you ever known the joy of trick or treating?
I haven’t been confronted with it yet. But we have the same kind of thing for Easter.
So you get candy for the Lord and we get candy for Satan.
But everyone gets candy.
So everyone is happy in the end.